Sunday, December 07, 2008

Bukit Antarabangsa - Time to Point Fingers

What happened here? Who to blame this time?

On Saturday early morning, a Bukit Antarabangsa landslide came crashing down on fourteen bungalows and almost went into the compound of Impian Selatan Condominium. Residents in other bungalows located on the same rows of the incident are contemplating on whether to move out to somewhere safer.

As of now, residents living in Impian Selatan Condominium, Taman Bukit Mewah, Jalan 6A Taman Bukit Jaya and Jalan 9 Taman Wangsa Ukay have been ordered to move out immediately as Public Works Institute of Malaysia (Ikram) and the Public Works Department (PWD) confirmed that landslides may recur. Where were these two government agencies prior to the landslides?

Impian Selatan Condominium has been identified as the most critical in that it may collapse anytime. The 2km vicinity from this spot is an area prone to landslides because of heavy hill developments.

When the Selangor state government threw out new housing and building applications on Class 3 and Class 4 hillslopes (seeing the big picture of keeping the environment intact), various parties have objected with all their might. The following three paragraphs were extracted from Elizabeth Wong's blog:-

Developers thought it was a late April Fool’s joke. Since our ban, they have used all means - the media, blogs, lobbying of ADUNs and MPs etc. to change of our minds. We were labelled and villified as “anti-business” and “anti-development”. I have even had some of our Pakatan MPs asking us to make exceptions for Class 3.

I was told they particularly disliked me and called me “lan-si” (very ‘action‘) just because during a public meeting of developers, NGOs, residents and the Exco, one of the key developers questioned how could the state government stop hillslope development, and I answered, “Because we can…”. And none were too happy when I had to repeatedly and literally wave the ‘Total Planning Guidelines” book at them.

And every couple of months, we have to repeat our policy decision again. Even as recent as last month, developers were insisting that they had the right to develop hillslopes and some had told a couple of ExCo members that they were planning to sue us. One of them said we would have to compensate them RM 330 million (25% of our state budget) of possible loss of profits. Imagine the pressure of a lobby group whose combined income and assets dwarfs the state government.

Lobby? Who are this group of lobbyists? Even Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak quoted the same word. He mentioned this - "calls on developers not to lobby or pressure the Government for any building permits for hillside development."

Anyway, both the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister were cohesive on this - government will not be issuing any more permits for hillside developments.

However, the Prime Minister said something that was half correct - “But Malaysians never want to learn from past experiences, they want a good view (scenery) while developers only seek to profit but no one takes safety and soil stability into consideration."

Malaysians who purchased properties had expected the property developers to have gotten proper licences and approvals, after having submitted the development plans / soil studies / drainage and irrigation planning, from the relevant federal and state government agencies. You can't say that the purchasers are partly to be blamed for willing to buy up the properties.

Kudos to the Selangor state government for sticking to the law and being the first and only state in the Federation to have complied with the Federal Town and Country Planning Department’s “Total Planning Guidelines” 1997 (2nd edition, 2001) which states that no housing development should be allowed on 25 degrees and above gradient slopes. Of course, that was achieved after the political tsunami that happened on 8 March 2008.

From now, we will see whether the federal goverment is true to their words ........ maybe six months down the road, another hillslope project will be approved and the government will tell you extensive and in-depth studies have been conducted to ensure 100% safety and landslide proof. Then the project will take off without you knowing or given the chance to record your protest.

I think the residents staying around Medan Damansara are going to be dead worried about the Damansara 21 project, developed by SDB Properties Sdn Bhd (subsidiary company of Selangor Dredging Berhad), located right up above their home sweet home after reading about this Bukit Antarabangsa incident. There was already a reported landslide incident at this project but the City Hall Council of Kuala Lumpur ("DBKL") said it's safe.

Will the federal government, state governments, government agencies and property developers listen?

Enough of pointing fingers. Get the right things done at this point of time. If you are able to help out, do contact MARES/rescue (Aziz) 0169007763. Volunteers are required.
Tags: Bukit Antarabangsa Landslide, Impian Selatan Condominium, Taman Bukit Mewah, Tanah Runtuh, Medan Damansara, SDB Properties Sdn Bhd, Damansara 21, Selangor Dredging Berhad, Federal Town and Country Planning, City Hall Council, DBKL, Public Works Institute of Malaysia Ikram, Public Works Department



Blogger Borneo Falcon said...

I wonder whether they did any risk assessment to the site.

Malaysia never learn from past mistakes

08 December, 2008 09:25  
Blogger foongpc said...

History repeats itself again and again. There's simply no political will to do this right. I won't be surprised after a few months, this tragedy will be a distant memory and developers will be back at work at Bkt Antarabangsa. Sigh...

08 December, 2008 12:40  
Blogger 고양이 아줌마 (Cat Lady) said...

The govt should make the developers responsible for lives lost. They should be jailed for life and treated like murderers.

I know it sounds harsh, but had such a law existed, the developers would be more conscientious & responsible about their projects.

08 December, 2008 23:11  
Blogger Kev said...

13 years ago, it was Highland Towers nearby. After 13 years, nothing's changed. They just refuse to learn. Sigh...

09 December, 2008 07:35  
Blogger Gorgeous Ol' Eve Loves Vanilla. You? said...

People should be smart not to buy homes there. Period.

09 December, 2008 15:48  
Blogger Johnny Ong said...

borneo - they may not have assessed the slope that was on the hill la. why so troublesome in climbing the hill

foong - it will be a covered case up again

blackie - yeah, i reckon that's the best move which is to hold developers accountable for their goods

kev - not refused .... just ignore first and hope that it wont happen again

gorgeous eve - so there they are ... blame the buyers ... in overseas, the person in charge of the ministry wld have tendered resignation

10 December, 2008 22:41  
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Blogger Johnny Ong said...

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16 August, 2010 15:37  

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